January 24, 2011
Monday morning seems like a decent time to look back at what we learned in Big 12 basketball. Each Saturday will provide nearly seismic shifts in the conference landscape from here on out. Here's our first Monday look at what we know that we didn't know on Friday:
*I know Colorado is more pretender than contender. Credit the Buffs for beating Missouri and then winning at Kansas State (which looks less impressive all the time). But they've now lost games at Nebraska and at Oklahoma. Maybe I can forgive the one in Lincoln, but if you want to play in the NCAA Tournament, you don't lose in Norman. CU won't win in Lawrence or Columbia. They still have to play the two best teams in the South. And they have nothing from the non-conference season on which to fall back. Tad Boyle's done a fine job, but the NIT is as far as CU will go.
*I know Kansas State has no chance to win the league. And I know they'd better win on Monday night against Baylor to continue to discuss the NCAA Tournament. I thought it was a little ridiculous they were picked to win the league before the season. I mean, Kansas wins the league every year. How do you pick anyone else? I didn't think the Cats were the #3 team in America, but I didn't think they were this bad. I saw KSU up close last Monday at Mizzou Arena. When Jake Pullen isn't on the floor, this team just has nowhere to turn offensively.
*I know Texas is in the driver's seat to win the Big 12. But I don't know if they'll win it. What the Horns did on Saturday in Lawrence was amazingly impressive. But they have to travel to Oklahoma State on Wednesday and host Missouri on Saturday. Can UT bounce back from the emotional high of ending the 69-game home court winning streak for the Hawks? Rick Barnes still has the stigma of falling from 17-0 and No. 1 in the nation to first-round tournament loser last season. Forgive me if I wait a couple of weeks before handing the crown to Texas.
*I know the top four seeds in the Big 12 tournament. Texas and Kansas are elite level, potential Final Four teams. Missouri and A&M are at least Sweet 16 type teams, with the chance to be better. Everyone else in the conference is at least a step below those four. I'll be very surprised if those teams, in some order, aren't the ones watching the other eight play on the first day of the league tourney.
*That's what I know. What I don't know is what's going on with star recruit Tony Mitchell. Another few days, another few rumors, no more answers. If he's not enrolled in class by the end of the day Tuesday, he ain't coming. Eventually, there will be an end. Right now, there is not. Mike Anderson will be on the Big 12 teleconference this morning and he'll have media day this afternoon in Columbia. Perhaps he'll have something to tell us then. I'm not counting on it.